Speechless

A world of words inside my soul; how can I explain it? All the words I know can’t come close, all the pretty prose and turns of phrase are useless.

Can you translate the whispers of the deep into spoken words? Can any amount of music or painting come close to revealing true beauty? Can the glory of the sun compare to the essence behind the sun, to the lifeblood which gives it its glory? Can a foggy mirror produce the same clarity as the thing it reflects? Does the moon shine as brightly as the sun, whose light she mirrors? Sing, my soul, and speak, my mouth, although all falls short of God, although all falls short of the depth of feeling. Though I fall short, still I give my all.

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The Long-Awaited Adventure

Brace yourself: a long but important post is coming. Many of you have been following this blog for years and years, and I want to share this with you because it’s the next step in my life.

This blog once contained a lot more UCT (University of Cape Town)-related posts, but after the third year there aren’t really many new things to talk about, so they haven’t been as prolific lately as they used to be. This one isn’t about UCT, per se, but it is about what I’ve been studying and why.

img200.jpegTowards the end of high school in 2010, I allowed myself to dream big and think, “What do I actually want to do with my life?” Two things popped up that had been there for a while, chilling in my subconscious: a heart surgeon and a writer. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to be a missionary like my parents. The thing is, when your parents do something, you have no romantic illusions about it. You’ve seen the reality, and it’s not always a bed of roses. No profession is, but it’s easy to harbor romantic ideas about a profession you haven’t seen first hand. By the time I finished high school, I had been turned down for medical school at UCT but accepted for a BSc (Bachelor of Science), which meant that I could do some of the med school courses and transition over at some stage. I was all set to become a doctor.

office 012But then, literally the morning after I finished my high school diploma, I went with my parents on yet another month-long missions trip. Going on these trips is nothing new for me. Throughout my childhood and my life with my parents, I never went more than 8 months before traveling somewhere, and often for 3 months at a time. I feel more at home on the Heathrow, Schiphol, Addis Abiba Bole, and many other airports, than I care to divulge. I feel as at home on an airplane as I do in the UCT library, if that gives you any idea.

37192_1718061875520_6271964_nOn this particular trip, I was going to help my mom, who is the Director of Promotions at The Word for the World Bible Translators, to take photos and videos so that she would have ample promotions material for a while. I remember the exact moment when I knew, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, that this was it. The Calling. The Passion. The Life. I was sitting in the back of the room where, looking for good photo opportunities, when suddenly the thought ran across my mind: I can’t believe people get to do this for a living. And when you think something like that, you can’t just ignore it. You can’t just go back to Cape Town and start studying in a totally different direction. The change of mind was so absolute, and so complete, that it seemed idiotic and unbelievable to me that I’d ever considered anything else.

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And that, my friends, is how it came to be that I’ve spent 5 years at UCT studying Linguistics, Classical Greek, and Hebrew (though Greek is the only one I’ve studied for all 5 years). Unfortunately, I had to spend quite a lot of time convincing myself that I was where I was supposed to be, because the inspiration of the moment inevitably gives way to, “What the hell was I thinking?” I wish I could go back to my first year self and tell myself to stop worrying, stop being anxious, and just trust myself and more importantly, trust God. In any case, the point of this post is that I am finally finishing up my postgrad degree in Classical Greek, and as of the end of January, I will be throwing myself into the work of TWFTW.

IMG_4151It’s exciting to be on the threshold of your dream, and of what you believe you’re supposed to be doing, but it’s also terrifying. As I know all too well, the sweet joy of the life I’m about to enter, the life I grew up knowing, is also fraught with difficulty, frequent financial hardship, and, to an extent, isolation. The simple truth is that when you’re out of the country you “live” in for a month at a time several times a year, it’s difficult to get involved in local things, to be married, to have a family, to consistently keep up with your friends and family. To be “normal”. Moreover, it is difficult for people to relate to you and your life, and this can be isolating as well.

However, I firmly believe that as long as you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing in life, you will have the strength to live. I also believe that God gives us what we need to come through every hour, every day, every month, every year.

All of that said, I’m incredibly excited to be involved with TWFTW. Through the work they do, people who have never had a Bible in their own language before are able to have one. Can you imagine what that feels like? After a lifetime of having to read it in a language that you might know but that isn’t your language, that isn’t your mother tongue…finally, finally you hold it in your hands, and suddenly you realize that God speaks your language. That is breathtaking. And that’s what makes it all worth it. That’s what I want to help achieve.

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If you would like to receive my newsletters (they will not be nearly as rambly as this blog post, I promise, and I’ll only send one every 2-3 months so you won’t be spammed) please send your name and email to africanstardust@gmail.com, or click here.

And thank you, all of you, for following along all this time.

-Veronique

Katavti ha’Blog b’Ivrit

Veronique kotevet:

Zeh ha’post b’Ivrit, v’zeh probably raa meod, aval mah attem expect? Asiti Ivrit raq 23 shavuot, lachen attem lo y’cholim la’chshuv sh’Ivrit sheli yafeh meod. Aval zeh chashuv la’asot Ivrit, lachen anachnu poh.

Achshav yeshli harbeh avodah v’ha’stress is insane! Yesh raq shlosha shavuot lifnei ha’mivchanim, v’az ha’chag! Ani lo y’chola believe sh’cvar zeh chag. Aval, zeh boh lo regah too soon. Yesh harbeh dvarim ani rotsa la’asot, aval achshav ani lo y’chola la’asot ki ani busy meod!

Anachnu lo asitnu ha’future tense, lachen ani tsaricha stay im present v’past. b’Yevinit anachnu (shnaim nashim) asitnu tenses harbeh meod v’ani lo remember col ha’zeh.

Ivrit al-peh b’raq shlosha shavuot! Lo tov lo tov. M’yom ad yom ani raq lomedet lomedet lomedet…kmo m’lah sheli, zeh intense. Aval ani choshevet sh’lama hem omrim “she universita.” V’ani ratsiti universita, ki ani lo y’chola complain, ken?

Achshav ani mamash rotsa some ochel mizrachi. Eifoh misada Yisraeli? b’Sea Point, ulai? O misada Yevinit? Casher ani lomedet, ani ra’eva, ken? v’Ani osah cvisah, v’clean et ha’chadar-shina, v’col dvarim except lomedet.

Achshav…kama attem mevinim? 🙂
(Now…how much do you understand?)

(And for any actual Hebrew speakers, slicha l’dikduk raa!)

The World in My Marrow

Today, I am Indian. I hide my body in a modestly flattering kurta and wear long, beaded earrings and a soft, feminine scarf that covers my collarbones and dances behind me as I walk. Grace and beauty and a hint of spices and something deep, something mysterious, something far away and yet in reach, something beyond words.

I am 19 years old, South African according to my passport, of average intelligence and appearance, and of above average height. But really, none of this matters. If I speak with my soul, I’m sometimes young and sometimes old, sometimes of wine lands and sometimes of harsh, overworked earth or of high, mist covered mountains, and I’m grey, or blue-green, or a happy, sunflower yellow. Rarely, I’m red or black, and when I am I feel at odds with myself. Sometimes I’m an earthy color, or the color of an autumn leaf. But again, none of this really matters.

I am 19 years old and I’ve been to 27 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, and, the place where most of my heart has been planted in various places, Africa. My favorite countries are not necessarily those I expected, or those I chose to adore. They are places that demanded my love, either by force or in passionate, seductive ways, either in broad daylight or bathed in the silver light of the moon when the world is transformed into cold, ethereal beauty. They are places that stay in my dreams, that influence my actions and thoughts, that I both long for because they are familiar and never want to see again for fear that they will become too familiar, that demand my attention and affection even when I’m not in them.

South Africa for her gold and green and almost feverish obsession with living and freedom and creation and diversity. She grasps at this, at that, at everything that is life, at poverty and riches, at deepest anguish and deepest joy; a mixed blood flows in her veins, of corruption and justice, of purity and pollution, of ardor and tragic complacency, of too-clear sight and blindness. Young and inexperienced, but strong, so strong; determined. She is too young to be beautiful, and yet her insatiable hunger, her unquenchable thirst for life gives breath to her growing soul, gives sparkling magic to her youth.

Ethiopia for her ruthless beauty, for her demand of your heart and your soul, for her demand of your thoughts and loyalties and your surrender to her mossy cliffs. A queen mistaken for a prostitute; a royal queen who lives among her people, who knows their pains, their fears, their desires, their every thought. She protects her people from those who would not understand their beauty, the breathtaking immaculateness etched into their souls. Her pain makes her beauty more pronounced, her anguish deepens her lovely gaze.

Egypt for her ancient resoluteness. Like Ethiopia, she is a queen; now forgotten and abandoned, she roams her bloody golden sands, no less steadfast. A wise beauty, an ancient beauty, a warrior queen, unbridled, unafraid, unashamed. The chains around her ankles do not affect her spirit; she has been free, she has ruled the world, and she will be free again. Her wisdom comes from experience, her long past, her forgotten glory.

Zambia for her warmth, her contentment, her careless abandon. She is a wild summer, encroached upon by winter, but unable to be overtaken. Her swaying reeds, her smile which comes from her very depths, her soft, strong voice. She is uncharted wilderness, welcoming but dangerous to those who mean her harm. Her soft red dust and warm pink moon, trusting but wise, open but conditional. Once innocent, once broken, her lesson learned, but no less graceful.

India for her objection to being boxed in with words, for her elusive soul, her hidden treasures, her out of reach heart. She is the veiled lady, her veil garish with color and shimmering jewels, herself hidden. You are distracted by her veil, her covering; you look no further, or you would see her natural grace, her harmony disguised by noise and discord, her fire and fierce love, and her eyes, sweet and welcoming as a flower, clean and bright as a fountain at dawn, splashed with the sun’s golden rays.

These are the places in my heart, the pieces of my mind. Their people are inscribed into my memories, their sounds and smells and sights emblazoned in my senses. I can recall the scent of Zambian bread, baked fresh in the fire, like anise and something sweet and something only Zambian, something like security and tea and comfort and warmth. And the whirls of dust in Egypt, like glittering gold flakes against the sun at dawn, a teasing reminder of long gone treasures of a long gone empire.

I love these places, and many others, too many and too few. They are the clearest chapters of my past, more real than time in between, spent in the place I called home, spent in suburbs and clean-swept streets and trees with too little desire to grow. But even that I love, even that is part of me; I love the shallow safety, I love the sturdy fences, the cardboard houses, the contrast of tradition and frivolousness. I love them all; I love everywhere.